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EVE Online Previews: Demoing EVE-VR at E3 2013

By William Murphy on June 26, 2013

Garrett’s Thoughts

CCP continues to look at eSports with EVE and the Alliance Tournament offered some unique prizes through live stream. But what we also saw at E3 was EVE-VR, built to take full advantage of the Oculus Rift. CCP have a very solid deathmatch prototype game which could definitely translate into a massively scaled dogfighting game. We got to demo EVE-VR and the fast-paced space combat as seen through your own cockpit was simply awesome. The game was developed by five members of the EVE team for fun and now is looking like a solid addition to the studio’s game library. Using just missiles and lasers, you fight in a 7 vs. 7 combat scenario which only last a few minutes, but what a few minutes. Enhanced by the full 3D surround view of the goggles, the game brings you right into the seat of your ship.  I’ll let Bill and Rob explain it in their own words.

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Rob’s Thoughts

Going into my first E3 I really didn’t know what to expect. I had my schedule of appointments but was really looking forward to the surprises. I was holding out hope that some developer would spring an announcement that none of us had seen coming. I had no idea that CCP had brought a demo with them of a game their developers had been working on during their down-time. CCP encourages their developers to spend 80% of their time working on their main projects and 20% working on other things. EVE-VR is one of those other things. I like to consider myself a moderate on most things.  I try not to buy into the hype on any product or game before I get a chance to test it myself.  After having spent five minutes with the Oculus Rift and EVE-VR I feel confident in telling you this is a game-changer. Heading into E3 surprise hunting, I got what I was looking for and more. After epic failures in attempts at virtual reality in the past by Nintendo with the Virtual Boy and other games with Lawn Mower Man-esque rigs I can understand that many of you are probably skeptical of my claims. As you should be, but the chance to play EVE-VR for five minutes was in and of itself worth the trip to LA.

I now understand why all the people in the YouTube videos using an Oculus Rift fall over and break stuff. Heed my warning. If you ever use one, sit down. We were seated against a wall with the rift strapped to our heads, headphones on, and used Xbox controllers to fly our ships. EVE-VR is a fast paced match of ship to ship combat set in the EVE universe. If you move your head you moved your field of view. This was extremely immersive and a little disorienting at first. Even though I was not moving when I would do a barrel roll of a flip it felt like I was moving. I could see how this can cause motion sickness for some people. You also used your head to aim your missiles. You would bring up a reticule my holding down a button on the controller with your left hand but then you would scan for hostiles by looking all around you.  You also had lasers but they only fired directly in front of you. CCP has already added Dust 514 into the world of EVE. How cool would it be if they integrated EVE-VR into their universe as well? You can also see the possibilities here, a way for people who only want dogfights to contribute to the bigger picture of the war. Can you imagine the next Elder Scrolls game or a similar RPG on an Oculus Rift?  It could be amazing.

Bill’s Thoughts

There’s not much more I can say that Rob and Garrett haven’t already. I’ve been watching people talk about the Oculus Rift for months now, but I didn’t really buy into the device... until CCP gave me a reason to want one with a five minute demo.  There has never been a more immersive game technology than the Oculus, and when applied to a “Starfighter” sort of space battle game, it’s absolutely enthralling.  I didn’t want to take the headset off.  In the demo we used the Xbox 360 controllers to fire lasers and lock on our missiles, as well as control our flight like a typical joystick.  But the fact that I could see “my” hands, legs, cockpit, and the internals of my ship merely by moving my head?  That alone brought so immediately into the setting... if Star Citizen and EVE itself don’t offer Oculus Rift support in the future they’ll have let us all down.

EVE-VR is just a prototype, and E3 was a way for CCP to test the waters and get reactions from press and players. I expect the majority of reactions were: “Oh my god, give me this now” mixed with a dose of “I guess I’m motion-sick?” But for those who don’t get sickened by something like EVE-VR, the future looks bright.  CCP should definitely make this game part of their suite of offerings, so long as the Oculus itself gains a large enough user-base.  And I really hope it does just that, because I want more and more games using this technology. 

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.

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